Monday, 4 June 2012

Is it recyclable?

There is often too much packaging on the things we buy, wasting resources - and in many cases it isn't even recyclable. It is bananas. One way to improve the world would be if only recyclable or compostable packaging could be used. It has got to the point that even teabags aren't biodegradable because of the unnecessary plastics that are added to them.

Examples of how it shouldn't be done

Thorntons - choosing non-recyclable packaging materials. "We would love you to recycle this packaging" they say, right below the box saying that it can't be recycled.

Lidl 'Deluxe' crisps...

...not so 'deluxe' when you realise they forgot to make the packaging recyclable.

Morrisons have chosen to use non-recyclable packaging for their product, yet then claim they care about the environment. If they cared, they would just choose a recyclable form of packaging to begin with. To make wasteful choices then try to spin it as a virtue is an insult to their customers.

Co-op toothpaste - packaged in non-recyclable mixed materials. Ethical companies choose packaging that CAN be recycled. Composite materials (such as Tetra Pak) make recycling in any meaningful way difficult or impossible, depending on the materials.

Salt & Shake crisps - Walker's don't make any effort at all. They just show an image of dropping the packet into the bin, because they choose to use materials that can't be recycled.

Other waste - too much packaging. Superdrug put a single layer of a few pills into a large container, tricking the customers into thinking they are getting more for their money.

Examples of how it should be done

Here's a wrapper from a tasty Organic Seed & Bean Company bar of chocolate. There was a foil wrapper inside, but it turns out it is actually compostable! The back of the packet says: "Our inner 'metal wrappers are made from cellulose and are home compostable". There is no excuse for other companies to do anything different.

We'll contact all of the 'baddie' (i.e. wasteful) companies named above - if they provide any means of getting in touch - and will report back in a week if they say anything positive. Otherwise assume that they don't care about the recycling issue. After all, they choose not to use the many recyclable and compostable materials on their products.

Superdrug fail!
The Superdrug online form led to the message below, directing us back to the form, which generated another identical message... They obviously don't want to hear from customers.

Walkers replied on 6th June.  Although their website says "All Walkers packs are recyclable" this is actually misleading. As they admit in their letter: "Currently our Walkers Crisps packets are comprised of an inner foil layer, and an outer plastic layer (plus some sealant between). As you will appreciate, technically, virtually anything can be recycled, however, because separation of these materials is both costly and energy intensive it would make little sense to do so, environmentally or economically. And there is not the infrastructure for the ordinary consumer to actually recycle the material in question. So our current Walkers Crisps packets are not, in a meaningful sense, recyclable." Which is just stating what we already knew, despite the misleading claim on their web pages (which also say "Walkers is committed to becoming a more sustainable business" - the practice seems quite different when they refuse to use straightforward recyclable materials). They refer to themselves as the "UK's favourite crisps brand" but in my experience they are not the favourite, just the only ones you can buy in many places due to the deals they have with providers. CIN prefers crisps in recyclable packets that aren't so heavy on the salt.
The rest
The other companies did not care about the issue enough to bother replying.

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